Dumpling: A Shared Platform for Professional Shoppers and Service Providers
When we first started Dumpling, we knew that the gig economy was inherently broken and built on the exploitation of workers. There had to be a better way for workers to have more dignity and capture more of the wealth in these fast growing industries, while also building a successful and sustainable business ourselves to support and provide value to them.
Four years later and our goals are still the same, to fundamentally disrupt the gig economy, and to create a company and business model that empowers workers with ownership, technology, and support — and to do this at scale.
The only way that we can truly disrupt the current gig economy model is to help make so many personal shoppers and workers in these industries independently successful — that it will force on-demand companies to drastically change how they pay and value people, or risk getting put out of business.
While both our goal and the need for a better model has remained steadfast over the past few years, a lot has also changed since we started this journey.
We’ve evolved and built our platform significantly, weathered the rise and fall of a global pandemic, made some mistakes, learned a lot through it all, and wanted to take a moment to share what we’ve learned, where we’re currently focused, and the key principles that are core to what we’re building moving forward.
Focused on the Professional Service Provider
Dumpling isn’t for every worker in the gig economy. There are simply too many people to make it work for everyone. With ownership and empowerment as the foundation to our approach, we are focusing everything we do around the needs and opportunities of people that are truly focused on building their business and not simply working a gig.
Common Characteristics of a Professional
While there isn’t any single indicator that predicts whether someone will be successful building their business, there are some prominant characteristics and traits that are shared accross the most successful business owners on the Dumpling platform, including:
- Focus on clients and providing great service
- Trying to build repeat clientele and wealth
- The buck stops with them (ownership mentality)
- Invest in their business and the tools to run it
- View Dumpling as a partner for their business
Building a Shared Platform with a Focus on Ownership
We believe the best way to both empower independent business owners and provide all of the technical, financial, and community elements to a large number of people at scale is through a Shared Platform focused on ownership.
Elements tailored for professionals to run their businesses how they see fit. What this means for you as a business owner:
- Setting your own service prices (within standard models)
- Selecting the stores and services you offer
- Setting your schedule and delivery zone
- Determining which clients you want to work with
Elements that are shared and impact business owners and clients alike:
- Mobile apps, website, and store catalogs
- Payment platforms and credit cards
- Marketplace and lead generation
- Brand and awareness
- General playbooks and focus areas
- Coaching and support
Pro Subscription Plan
We are building new features and expanding the platform for business owners on the Pro subscription plan. These new capabilities will be tailored for the professional personal shoppers and service providers described above. The Pro plan also offers significantly reduced credit card and processing rates and typically pays for itself at 5 completed orders a month, keeping significantly more money in business owners’ pockets as they complete orders beyond that.
Tips Aren’t Needed to Earn What You Want
One of the dirty tricks of the gig economy is that base rates are so low that tips are needed in order for workers to earn any semblance of a decent wage, and quite often not given. We believe that tips should not be required to make what you want for your service, and that you should be able to set a base rate that accomplishes this.
As a result, we offer two standard models for setting your base service rate, including a percent-based model that scales up as the size of the order increases and allows you set a minimum fee regardless of order amount.
In addition, we’ve built a highly flexible tipping configuration that allows you display any combination of tip percentages for clients that choose to add a tip. We’re proud to offer a platform that allows business owners to thrive with predictable base service fees, and many configuration options to earn even more.
A Rising Tide
We believe the more Personal Shoppers that are successful running their businesses on the Dumpling shared platform, the better it is for everyone else doing the same thing.
A few examples to help illustrate what we mean:
- Client Reviews: When a happy client's experience translates into a 5 star app review for Dumpling, the credibility and visibility for the app as a whole, and all others running their business on it, increases.
- News Coverage: When a Personal Shopper’s business and/or Dumpling is featured in a news story, new potential clients are driven to the platform looking for their own personal shopper, resulting in new leads for many business owners.
- Crowd Sourced Store Catalogs: Almost impossible to do on your own, but thousands of Business Owners across the country contributing to Dumpling’s catalogs allow for more accurate product and pricing information for customers.
- Credit Card and Processing Rates: As the number of successful business owners has grown on the Dumpling platform, we’ve been able to negotiate significantly lower credit card rates with our provider, drastically reducing this business expense and passing those savings to business owners.
It Cuts Both Ways
Because of the nature of a Shared Platform, individuals providing poor service or acting badly can hurt everyone else that is also using Dumpling to run their business.
A few examples:
- A business owner flakes on an order or worse — scams their client. Client writes a bad review of the Dumpling app — that can scare off potential clients for other Personal Shoppers across the country.
- Unrealistic Delivery Zone. When a business owner has a larger delivery zone than they’re willing to deliver to, new clients can place an order only to have the shopper cancel it and be told they’re too far away. Client writes a bad app store review, deterring future potential clients away when downloading the Dumpling app. Meanwhile, other business owners that would have happily served that client have lost out.
- Purchasing prohibited items, such as alcohol or tobacco, with the Dumpling credit card. These purchases violate the terms of service of our credit card and payment platform providers, and can jeopardize our standing with these essential tool providers.
- Charging a client an additional fee without consent, such as a mileage fee or heavy item fee. Client then disputes the entire credit card charge. These disputes, and the quantity of them, can impact the preferred credit card rates that we’ve worked hard to secure and pass through to Dumpling business owners.
Our Role in the Shared Platform
In addition to our role of developing great products and providing coaching and support for business owners, there are other important aspects that we are also focused on:
Provide Trust and Transparency for Business Owners and Clients
- Protect personal information, such as letting business owners hide their mobile number, using a business number instead. Similarly, we’re going to do more to give clients more control over their personal information.
- Keep financial information confidential, using secure credit card tools and best practices so neither Dumpling nor Business Owners have direct access to credit card details.
- Fraud and scam protection for business owners and clients. Not only is there a system in place to protect business owners when fraud does happen, but the team actively works to identify and stop fraudulent orders before they occur.
Enforce Sensible Rules and Standards
It’s our job to ensure the platform is healthy and benefiting the community as whole. When needed, this includes removing clients and business owners that violate our terms of service and community standards, negatively impacting the platform, and posing a risk to the overall experience.
Create a Vibrant Marketplace
In addition to providing a platform for you to run your own grocery delivery business for clients that you bring and recruit to use your service, Dumpling also has a marketplace where people can search for a personal shopper. You may opt-in to be a part of this marketplace and promote your business to these potential new clients. This can be a powerful tool for you to find new clients and quickly grow your business.
To maximize impact, it’s important for us to keep the marketplace healthy and thriving. We do that in the following ways:
- Promote the Dumpling marketplace and brand to attract new clients looking for personal shoppers and service providers
- Provide a consistent experience for these clients and ensure they connect with a business owner that best serves them
- Provide transparency and an easy way for clients to understand pricing and comparing options
- Create and enforce general rules and standards, including the removal of clients and business owners that violate rules and jeaporidize a healthy marketplace
- Prioritize and reward businesses based on transparent metrics that benefit the marketplace as a whole
In all that we do, business owners and their success continues to be our biggest driver and inspiration for our team at Dumpling. We believe our evolved focus on a shared platform tailored for ownership puts us in the best position to help professional shoppers and service providers across the country thrive and build successful and sustainable businesses. We’re more excited than ever about the future and looking forward to a great end of year and 2022!
Joel, Nate, and Tom